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Sinking Suspicions

Sara Sue Hoklotubbe

Publication Year: 2014

Suspicions run high when murder mixes with identity theft in the latest installment of the popular Sadie Walela mystery series set in Cherokee Country. No sooner does Sadie embark on an unexpected business trip to the beautiful island of Maui, when her long-time neighbor, Buck Skinner, a full-blood Cherokee and World War II veteran, goes missing and becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a petty identity thief.

Iconic lawman Lance Smith joins a community-wide search, but Buck is nowhere to be found. As evidence mounts against her old friend, Sadie rushes to return home to help—only to be delayed by an island-wide earthquake and her own sinking suspicions.

A diverse cast of characters weave together a breathless story of murder, thievery, and the toll of war on the human spirit. In her effort to restore balance to her neighbor’s life, Sadie not only uncovers the truth, but unravels much more than a murder.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Praise, Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. 3-6

Buck Skinner pulled an envelope out of his mailbox, wondered how many days it had been there, then spit on the ground as he slammed the box shut. He hated the U.S. government. Looking past the house toward a tree-lined meadow streaked with early...

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Chapter 1

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pp. 7-14

The plane lurched in the air and the knot in Sadie’s stomach tightened. “The pilot has turned on the ‘fasten seat belt’ sign while we experience some air turbulence,” the flight attendant announced. “Please take your seats. We will be making our descent shortly.” Sadie felt the plane vibrate and realized she hated flying. She could...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 15-21

Lance stood next to his truck and searched the simmering horizon for some kind of a sign that Sadie’s neighbor Buck Skinner was still alive. If he was, he wasn’t moving. Not that Lance could see, anyway. On the northern slope, a small herd of white-tailed deer entered the pasture. One by one, they bounced over the fence and congregated. From his...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 22-25

Sadie leaned on the balcony railing and stared at the ocean as its waves rolled into the shoreline in front of the building. The view stole her breath away. In the distance she could see the other side of Ma‘alaea Bay, which, according to the woman she’d first met at the registration desk, was a place called...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 26-31

Lance checked the time—5:00 a.m.—while he sat in his truck in front of Buck Skinner’s house and sipped coffee, waiting for Sheriff O’Leary to arrive. Lance wanted a closer look at the letters from the IRS he’d seen the day before. However, he didn’t want to enter Buck’s house without the sheriff...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 32-36

When Sadie woke up, it took a minute for her to recall where she was. She had dreamed about someone singing a mournful Cherokee song and the melody still hung in the air around her. She sat up in bed and listened to what sounded like a million chattering birds. They were either arguing over...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 37-40

Lance locked up Sadie’s house and started to replace the key under the flowerpot, then changed his mind and dropped it into his pocket. The dog food he’d left by the back porch remained untouched. He called out Sonny’s name and waited. Still no sign of him. Joe, Sadie’s paint horse, stood under...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 41-46

Sadie began to feel a sense of urgency, with the small voice in the back of her head churning out thoughts of home. Even in this magnificent place, she would never be able to relax and enjoy herself if she couldn’t let go of the events going on back in Oklahoma. When she reached Haycraft Park, she stood under the open shower and...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 47-52

Lance ran to his truck, retrieved his Smith and Wesson, and jumped into Charlie’s cruiser. They tore out of the chicken plant parking lot and back to town. They streaked down Main Street, then Charlie quickly turned west onto Creek Street, a short street that ended at the entrance of the Vista Trails...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 53-58

Cynthia Tanner stood in front of the meat counter, trying to choose what to prepare with her morel mushrooms. For weeks she’d been craving the delectable treats that grew in the woods close to the creek not far from her home. She considered them a gift from the Creator to the Cherokee people, and...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 59-61

A day earlier, Sonny had watched his owner, Sadie, get into a car and disappear into the distance, leaving him alone at the farmhouse with only the horse for company. He walked over to the edge of the porch where she sometimes dropped extra food and found an extra-large hunk of half-frozen...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 62-67

Sadie awoke to a loud rumble, a sound like a train barreling down its tracks. She could hear dishes rattling in the cabinet and objects falling, crashing onto the floor. The bed began to shake, and she gasped as an uncontrollable feeling of vulnerability washed over her. “No!” she yelled, as she jumped out...

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Chapter 12

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pp. 68-72

A sharp pain rocked Buck into consciousness, where he found himself in a precarious position. His backside felt like a bullet had ripped through it, and his head hurt. He took inventory of his body parts by starting at his head and moving down. He could taste blood, he had a bump on his head, and...

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Chapter 13

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pp. 73-75

Lance had decided to spend Sunday night at Sadie’s house. He wanted to be there in case Sonny decided to come back home. He was beginning to lose patience with both Sadie and her dog. What was he? A dog sitter, a house sitter, a finder of lost neighbors? Why hadn’t she called? It wasn’t...

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Chapter 14

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pp. 76-81

Dee Dee Skinner pulled her black Cadillac into Buck’s front yard and stared. “This house is going to fall in on your head, old man,” she mumbled. The grueling, two-day drive from California to Oklahoma had left her cranky and stiff. She slid out of the car, stood up, and stretched her long legs...

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Chapter 15

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pp. 82-87

Back in her condo, Sadie quickly lost interest in the paperback the woman had insisted she take from the bookcase in the lobby. She dropped the book on the coffee table and walked to a CD player near the television. She hit the play button and waited to see if the batteries would work. They did. A...

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Chapter 16

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pp. 88-93

Lance parked his truck next to Charlie McCord’s cruiser, got out, and walked into the Sycamore Springs Waffle House to the welcoming aroma of freshly brewed coffee and fried bacon. He immediately spotted Charlie pouring syrup on a stack of pancakes at his favorite booth in the far corner...

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Chapter 17

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pp. 94-99

The sun climbed higher in the sky and Buck wrestled with his predicament. He pulled a piece of venison jerky from his stash, tore it in half, and returned the rest to his pocket. He chewed it slowly, allowing the salty taste to linger in his mouth. His father had taught him well. He’d taught him how to survive—a lesson...

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Chapter 18

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pp. 100-106

Sadie followed Pua as they disembarked and walked to a waiting van. “Aloha, Makani.” Pua handed the driver a couple of bills. “All day for both of us,” she said and nodded toward Sadie. “Howzit, Pua? Just here for the day?” Pua smiled. “Yes, just for the day. Want...

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Chapter 19

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pp. 107-112

Cynthia Tanner didn’t want to go back into the trailer. It would never be the same knowing what had happened to Benny there. How could she ever sleep in the same bed where his life had been snuffed out by some deranged person? Then a scary thought occurred to her—what was stopping that same...

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Chapter 20

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pp. 113-119

Sadie and Pua sat on wooden chairs in the shade of a giant mango tree in Tutu’s backyard, drinking mint-flavored iced tea, nibbling first on fish and rice and then on Home Maid Bakery pastries, listening to Tutu talk about the hardships of living on Maui during the war. Pua looked surprised when...

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Chapter 21

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pp. 120-125

Sadie found her seat on the airplane, pushed her carry-on into the compartment above her head, and settled in next to the window. She was exhausted. She looked out the window at the nearby palm trees and the distant mountains as she thought about the day’s events. On the ferry ride back to Maui from Lāna‘i, Pua had made nonstop...

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Chapter 22

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pp. 126-129

Lance stopped at Sadie’s mailbox and retrieved her mail before continuing up the lane to her house. He parked behind her Explorer, got out, and whistled for Sonny. There was no sign of the wolf-dog. Joe, her paint stallion, whinnied and began to walk toward the barn. “At least I’m not invisible to...

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Chapter 23

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pp. 130-135

By the time Lance turned his truck off the highway and was heading up the lane to Sadie’s house, the tension between them had grown into a green monster. Finally, Sadie spoke angrily. “You act like you’re not even happy to see me, Lance. What’s the deal?” “Sadie, why didn’t you return my phone calls? I’m here doing the best...

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Chapter 24

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pp. 136-141

She rode Joe back to her house like a barrel racer on full tilt and dialed Lance’s cell phone. When she heard his voice mail recording click on, she slammed down the receiver and let out a screech of frustration. Regaining her composure, she called 911 and instructed the first responders to meet...

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Chapter 25

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pp. 142-148

After angrily detaching himself from Dee Dee Skinner, Lance watched as Sadie and Charlie drove away. He walked over to the check-in desk and spoke to the young nurse. “Benjamin Skinner’s niece is here,” he said. “Can you let her know when Mr. Skinner can have visitors?”...

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Chapter 26

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pp. 149-155

When Sadie arrived at the hospital, the sun had already dropped behind the western treetops, tinting the sky pink. She parked and entered through the main door instead of going back through the emergency room where she had left Buck earlier in the day. Recognizing one of the ladies at the information desk, she approached...

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Chapter 27

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pp. 156-162

Buck could smell alcohol before he opened his eyes. His body ached and his knee throbbed. He moved his left hand to his forehead and felt the bandage, trying to gather his thoughts. Oh, yes, he remembered, the military hospital. How long had he been here? Then he remembered the man yelling for help. Buck didn’t know if...

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Chapter 28

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pp. 163-168

Sadie and Lance arrived at the ballpark just in time to see the ninth inning of a coed softball game between the Sycamore Sparrow Hawks and the Jay Bulldogs. Jay was ahead by two points and the Sycamore fans were doing their best to cheer the home team to victory. They found good seats near first base, and Lance went to the concession...

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Chapter 29

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pp. 169-174

Sadie parked her vehicle beside Jan’s Chevy truck and entered through the rear door of the travel office. One large room housed Jan’s desk, a display full of travel brochures, a small kitchenette, and a bathroom. The office was empty except for Jan, who turned in her chair and winked at Sadie before...

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Chapter 30

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pp. 175-182

“Sadie, calm down.” Lance spoke sternly into his cell phone. “Charlie’s just trying to do his job. . . . If Buck’s innocent, the truth will eventually come out. . . . No, I’m not taking Charlie’s side . . .” He listened for a few moments before speaking in a more conciliatory tone. “Look, I’m getting ready to go...

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Chapter 31

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pp. 183-189

The next morning, Sadie awoke to the smell of smoke. She opened her eyes and sat straight up. She’d overslept, as evidenced by the streaks of blinding sunlight streaming through her bedroom window. Her exhaustion had overtaken her the night before and she’d slept deep and hard, and now her mind...

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Chapter 32

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pp. 190-196

Sadie dropped Jelly off at his house and made him promise to call her if he needed help with anything. When she got to Buck’s house, she noticed the two vehicles she’d seen earlier were still there, so she decided to go on home and call Lance. They could make arrangements to meet at Buck’s, and...

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Chapter 33

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pp. 197-201

Buck sat in a worn, overstuffed chair in his living room, lost in his thoughts, trying to make sense of all that had gone on the day before. Sadie and Lance sat across from him on a matching sofa. Finally, Lance placed a small box and a pile of letters on the cluttered coffee table between them. “I want to apologize to you for taking your things from the old house,”...

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Chapter 34

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pp. 202-212

Charlie shuffled through the stack of papers on the corner of his desk and retrieved a brown envelope from the medical examiner’s office. He used his pocketknife to unseal the flap and then pulled out the report. He leaned back in his chair, took a sip of coffee, and almost choked on it when he started...

About the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9780816598717
E-ISBN-10: 0816598711
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816531073
Print-ISBN-10: 0816531072

Page Count: 223
Publication Year: 2014

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Subject Headings

  • Women detectives -- Fiction.
  • Theft -- Fiction.
  • Murder -- Investigation -- Fiction.
  • Mystery fiction. -- gsafd.
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